Last month, I wrote about why I'm not reading Go Set a Watchman. (Short version: "I’d just rather not have to write a negative review of a Harper Lee book.") If you want to read the book, that's your prerogative, of course. And if you want to slag the book without reading it, that's your right as an American, too. But I can't help but feel that this news falls less on the side of a natural response to Go Set a Watchman and more on the side of a publicity stunt:
In a move that other proprietors of independent bookstores might consider unthinkable, Peter Makin, the owner of Brilliant Books in Traverse City, Michigan, is offering refunds to customers disappointed with Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman.
I get it. People are unhappy with the book. They have opinions, loud ones, and they want their opinions to be heard. But a refund is a bit much, isn't it?
When you buy a book, or when you check a book out from the library, you're quietly agreeing to a social contract: you're offering your attention to a work of art. You may not like the work of art. That's okay. You may like the work of art so much that you feel compelled to respond to it with a work of art of your own. That's wonderful! But a refund just feels so...dirty and commercial.
As a reader of fiction, you take a chance every time you pick up a book. That's part of the adventure of reading; when bookstores choose to offer money-back guarantees, it's a refutation of the contract between writers and readers.